Ozzie Guillen has reached out to Big Z about joining Marlins

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There was speculation at the end of the regular season that the Marlins might have interest in bringing Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano aboard this winter to pair him with his off-field friend and fellow Venezuelan native Ozzie Guillen.

Now those rumors are gaining serious traction.

According to beat writer Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Venezuela’s El Nacional is reporting that Guillen — the new Miami Marlins skipper — has already reached out to Big Z about a potential trade.

Zambrano is owed a whopping $18 million salary next season, so any deal is going to be tough to swing. But if the Marlins are willing to take on more than half of that remaining cash commitment, they should be able to make the marriage a reality.

Zambrano, 30, posted an underwhelming 4.82 ERA and 101/56 K/BB ratio in 145 2/3 innings this season, but he still has a cool 3.60 career ERA and 7.6 career K/9. Maybe he’ll flourish again with a change of scenery.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉